“The Irony of the Google Antitrust Suit.” Franklin Foer writes that the government’s suit against Google is long overdue and marks the end of Big Tech’s unchallenged accumulation of power.
“Patrick Deneen: A Primer.” Henry George summarizes Deneen’s books and the trajectory of his work in this essay and his follow-up essay, which focuses on Why Liberalism Failed. George helpfully situates Deneen’s critique of liberalism within a broader conversation—including figures such as Lasch and Scruton—and considers some of the questions that a “conservatism of limits” still needs to address.
“The Coming Conservative Counter-revolution?” Jeremy Beer reviews Andrew Bacevich’s anthology American Conservatism: Reclaiming an Intellectual Tradition and asks some probing questions. He concludes, “In short, stories have consequences. More so, perhaps, than ideas.”
“Where Liberal Power Lies.” Ross Douthat cautions conservatives against overstating the “soft totalitarian” power of big tech and big media.
“We All Think History Will Be on Our Side. Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Rely on That Assumption.” Priya Satia cautions those who defer to history’s judgment:
By deferring moral judgment to the future, this view of history as a source of future judgment enables people to act in a manner that they know to be morally dubious according to their present judgment. Many an avowedly great man has claimed, like Napoleon, that historic destiny put him beyond the ordinary moral world. The strongmen of our time are cut from precisely this cloth.
One of the chapters in my forthcoming book on the news articulates the dangers of making moral judgments based on a reading of history’s arc.
“How to Approach History As a Pursuit of Wisdom.” Andrew Kern offers some guidance for how to approach history as a rigorous yet humane discipline: “What then am I doing when I do history? I am inquiring into what brought the world I live into its present state and I am asking what I should be expected to do in this given world.” (Recommended by Matt Stewart.)
“Too Late for Liberalism?” What does Pope Francis make of liberalism? It’s complicated, according to Brandon McGinley in this reading of Fratelli tutti:
This economic liberalism, which not only permits but encourages and rewards the accumulation of wealth for private and partisan ends, is what the pontiff refers to when he uses the word critically. These people – the financiers and their toadies who profit from the destruction of the communities and affinities that form identities and nurture social friendship – are the betrayers of the promise of genuine justice and peace in our time.
“The Civil Tongue.” Dan Rattelle reads A.M. Juster’s Wonder and Wrath “as a statement on the nature of the ‘public poetry,’” poetry that defends the integrity and meaning of language.
“Study Suggests Rural Strategies Help Economies of Shrinking Cities.” Are large sections of Detroit becoming rural? Eric Freedman reports on some researchers who think the best answer is “yes” and propose a new model of rural development: “Although there’s no guarantee that switching to a more people-centered, trickle-up approach will work, traditional urban development strategies ‘appear ineffectual in halting, let alone reversing Detroit’s downtown trend,’ the study said.”
“Respect the People.” Chris Arnade warns that looking to the Fed to solve all our economic woes will not restore trust in the American government. Rather, “giving additional powers to [an] unelected institution composed of bankers and their close friends will increase that cynicism.”
“Salvaging Secession.” Bill Kauffman reviews Richard Kreitner’s Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union and muses on the possible goods of secession today: “The Founders understood union as a strategic necessity, not a moral imperative. Join or die, as the Revolutionaries preached, is practical advice, not holy writ.”
“Burke’s Defense of Natural Rights and the Limits of Political Power.” Bruce P. Frohnen contends that Burke’s view of rights is one we would do well to attend to today.
“Cultural Debris.” Alan Cornett has a new podcast that promises to be of interest to Porchers. His first episode is an excellent conversation with Kirk biographer Bradley Birzer. See also Birzer’s reasons for agreeing with Alan that October should be Russell Kirk month.
“Divorce is Down, Despite COVID–19.” W. Bradford Wilcox and Lyman Stone find, perhaps surprisingly, that the economic and social pressures of the coronavirus pandemic may be good for marriages.
“Without a ‘Right to Garden’ Law, It May Be Illegal to Grow Your Own Food.” Lydia Lee reports on the Right to Garden bill making its way through Illinois’s government.
“Fatigue.” Brian Miller reflects on the goods of farming even while fatigued by the drama of 2020: ”Farming, for me, has been the practical vaccine for what ails.”
“William Bartram’s Travels.” John Bauerschmidt reflects on Bartram’s 1791 book Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, The Cherokee Country, The Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges or Creek Confederacy, and the County of the Chactaws and commends his vision: ”Bartram is after [the] sheer delight in the beauty, complexity, and particularity of what is given.” (Recommended by Mark Clavier.)